The devolved government structure is taking up more than it can give in terms of public funds and the need to rework it all seems dire.
A proposal by the Controller of Budget to abolish 25 counties to be made to the constitutional reforms team, Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Opposition leader Raila Odinga, is the most recent plan of action to put the taxpayers’ money into good use.
According to Controller of Budget of the Republic of Kenya Ms Agnes Odhiambo, reworking the devolved government structure by slashing the number of counties, constituencies, wards and independent commissions, could free up more resources for development.
“While the devolved governance structure is commendable, questions have arisen over the number of counties and whether they are sustainable. The structure is expensive and holds back the country from achieving its developmental goals. We can do with 22 counties and reduce the number of independent commissions and offices. The number of commissioners in these commissions is high and is draining public funds. We can have two for each commission who can even work part-time,” she said.
Up to date figures from the Controller of Budget reveal that counties were allocated Sh303.8 billion with recurrent expenditure eating up the highest amount of Sh236.9 billion (77.9 per cent) while development was allocated a meagre Sh66.9 billion (22 per cent). The aggregate annual own source revenue target for counties was Sh49 billion compared to the actual collection of Sh32.5 billion, a significant drop from compared to last year target.
Ex-chair for Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya Patrick Mtange said the country can save so much yearly if the number of elected leaders is cut by half.
“With this over-magnified structure of Government, the obvious cause is a burden to the taxpayer. The burden includes the cost of maintaining administrative support staff that comes with the many offices. With a lean government, starting with halving the number of elected leaders, we can save this country at least Sh1 trillion. In the process leading to the promulgation of the Constitution, we advised that the current government structure was too big for an emerging economy like ours. But we were ignored,” he said.
To reduce the burden of representation and the public wage bill, some elective positions would have to be removed according to Gatundu South Moses Kuria.
“I propose that there should be no nominated MCA or senator, and no position of woman rep, but only nine nominated MPs – three representing people with disabilities, three representing youth and three representing women. We continue to see a high number of elected leaders but without a corresponding improvement in service delivery. One of the sectors where this is evident is the political sector where the number of representatives is unduly high,” he said.